Forensic Jobs You’ll Never See on CSI: #1 Forensic Accountant

Forensic Jobs You’ll Never See on CSI: #1 Forensic Accountant
Russ Stover

CSI and its clones show some of the more typical jobs associated with modern forensics. They have a medical examiner, they have people who know blood splatter, fingerprints, fibers, tire and tool marks, ballistics, and of course the all important DNA. What you don’t see on these shows, or at least very often, are the dozens of other jobs that are just as important if not crucial to modern policing and investigations. Investigations are a team effort, whether its serial homicide or purse snatching and there are many more jobs and specialties than CSI would lead us to believe.

Requirements: BA or higher in accounting, specialized training
Pay: $70,000/year and over

What is forensic accounting?
Forensic accounting is a sub-specialty of accounting that covers the forensic, or investigative and usable in a court of law, use of accounting methods and practices. Forensic accountants, also known as investigative auditors, act as investigators into financial or business practices and as expert witnesses at trial. They are trained to look at the numbers and data of business from a detective’s point-of-view. Forensic accounting is often part of an investigation of a crime, like employee theft, insurance fraud, corruption, securities fraud, money laundering, and the proceeds of crimes like drugs and organized crime.

What does a Forensic Accountant Do?
Forensic accountants are used to analyze, summarize, and interpret financial data and present it in a way that is easily understood. They can be in public or private practice and employed by insurance companies, police, government, banks, financial firms, and NGOs. They investigate and analyze financial evidence like book keeping records and reports; they develop computer applications and models to aid in analysis and presentation; communicate their conclusions by writing reports, legal exhibits, charts, and documents; help in court cases by testifying in court and preparing exhibits. They can work to resolve disputes between a company’s shareholders or partners such as compensation and benefits issues. They could also be asked to figure up the economic losses resulting from a motor vehicle accident, industrial accident, or other crimes. A forensic accountant could be asked to help in other types of insurance cases like property losses, business interruption, or employee theft. Other duties could include tracing funds, finding and recovering assets, due diligence reviews, and forensic intelligence gathering.
Forensic accountants have to be very discreet due to the fact that millions of dollars and the welfare of their clients, whether individuals or businesses, are of the utmost importance. They have to combine accounting, criminology, psychology, and common sense to observe discrepancies in the records but also the suspects, employees, even their clients’ actions. They have to be impartial, curious, persistent, and have sound judgment like any other kind of investigator.
In an investigation the forensic accountant first meets the client-government agent, lawyer, business leader, or other-and learns the facts of the case. Next, they plan the investigation plotting out the scope of what they need to know or find out. During the investigation they examine credit statements, bank records, business journals and ledgers, computer databases, emails, and anything else that will fill in the jigsaw puzzle of finances. Once all the records have been gathered they interview the accused and others involved to get their side of any irregular financial aspects. Now, the forensic accountant begins their analysis. That may include tracing all the assets involved, figuring the total losses and how it happened, and creating order out of the chaos of transactions. Lastly, they prepare their report which could include a variety of charts, graphs, and spreadsheets.
In addition, the forensic accountant may aid the attorney in reviewing documents and testimony to explain their financial importance and can guide the attorney in the case as to what questions to ask and if there is other information needed to succeed in court.

How do I become a forensic accountant?
To become a forensic accountant one must have an accounting degree, preferably be certified, as well as classes in criminal justice, psychology, business law, business ethics, and computers. Training organizations like the American College of Forensic Examiners International and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners offer classes and certification to show their forensic accountants have the training and experience to do the job.

Crumbley, D. Larry; Lester E. Heitger, G. Stevenson Smith (2005-08-05). Forensic and Investigative Accounting. CCH Group.
Association of Certified Fraud Examiners http://www.acfe.com/
American College of Forensic Examiners International http://www.acfei.com/forensic_certifications/crfa/

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  1. When will we see more "Criminology & Justice: Forensic Jobs You’ll Never See on CSI"

  2. Wow! They are trained to look at the numbers and data of business from a detective’s point-of-view about Forensic Accounting Sydney


All comments and feedback appreciated!

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